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The Case of Free Speech Campaigner Mazen Darwish

Closed Mixed Outcome

Key Details

  • Mode of Expression
    Press / Newspapers
  • Date of Decision
    August 31, 2015
  • Outcome
    Acquittal, Judgment in Favor of Defendant
  • Case Number
    N/A
  • Region & Country
    Syrian Arab Republic, Middle East and North Africa
  • Judicial Body
    First Instance Court
  • Type of Law
    Criminal Law
  • Themes
    Political Expression
  • Tags
    Freedom of press

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Case Analysis

Case Summary and Outcome

Mazen Darwish, a Syrian journalist and recipient of UNESCO’s World Press Freedom Prize as well as the winner of the Reporters Without Borders award (2013), was arrested and jailed in February 2012. The charges against him alleged that he had promoted terrorist activities. He was released by the Syrian authorities on August 10, 2015. On August 31, 2015, Darwish was acquitted by a Syrian court.


Facts

Mazen Darwish, director of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression, and two colleagues, Hani al-Zitani and Hussein Gharir, were arrested in February 2012. Prior to this, Darwish had been an outspoken critic against President’ Bashar al-Assad’s rule and the crackdown on protests in March 2011. The charges brought against Darwish alleged that he had promoted terrorist acts. Several human rights and freedom of press organizations had petitioned the Syrian government to released Darwish. Finally on August 10, 2015, Syrian authorities released Darwish.

Global FoE could not identify official legal and government records on the case and information on the case was derived from secondary sources. Global FoE notes that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding legal matters will be updated as an official source becomes available.


Decision Overview

On August 31, 2015, Darwish was acquitted by a Syrian court. Authorities stated that Darwish’s case was part of a presidential pardon.

Global FoE could not identify official legal and government records on the case and information on the case was derived from secondary sources. Global FoE notes that media outlets may not provide complete information about this case. Additional information regarding legal matters will be updated as an official source becomes available.


Decision Direction

Quick Info

Decision Direction indicates whether the decision expands or contracts expression based on an analysis of the case.

Mixed Outcome

While this case resulted favorably for the defendant, Marzen Darwish, this decision came out of a presidential pardon and does not expand freedom of expression for others.

Global Perspective

Quick Info

Global Perspective demonstrates how the court’s decision was influenced by standards from one or many regions.

Table of Authorities

National standards, law or jurisprudence

  • Syria, Anti-terrorism law, art. 8 (2012)

Case Significance

Quick Info

Case significance refers to how influential the case is and how its significance changes over time.

The decision establishes a binding or persuasive precedent within its jurisdiction.

This acquittal was connected to a presidential pardon, thus for this specific case Marzen Darwish has been pardoned, however, this does not set any type of precedent for other journalists facing similar circumstances in Syria.

Official Case Documents

Reports, Analysis, and News Articles:


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